TP2800 – The Prime LCD Monitor of the 21st Century

The start of a new era in ATM data display.

Around the world, many ATC centres and organisations are still equipped with the Sony DDM2800 series of CRT 2K monitors for air traffic management. But we have reached the end of an era: production of the Sony monitor has ceased, and users will now increasingly be looking for a replacement as their equipment draws closer to the end of its design life.

The solution, however, is already at hand. In February, 2005, Terma, the global provider of ATM solutions, systems and equipment, introduced a new high-resolution Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) for air traffic management. The new product, TP2800 series 2K display, was first presented at the ATC Maastricht exhibition, and drew immediate responses. Since then it has been test-run at several institutions.

Among the first customers to implement TP2800 as the direct one-to-one replacement of the out-going Sony DDM2800 are the German Air Force, and the CAA in UAE.

With a 2048 x 2048 pixel TFT LCD panel by Sharp Corporation of Japan, this monitor offers superior colour evenness, luminance and sharpness as well as remarkable viewing comfort. Electrically and mechanically, the monitor is fully compatible with the Sony DDM range of 2K x 2K colour displays.

ONE-TO-ONE SOLUTION

The new display has been carefully designed to yield a quick and trouble-free replacement to the outdated Sony analogue DDM2800 monitors, thereby extending the service life of any system using Sony (or compatible) 2K x 2K displays. Terma can even remove the old Sony DDMs for safe disposal in accordance with the proper statutory and environmental requirements. In addition, your investment in the 2K x 2K LCD module / panel can be preserved over the years as electronics technology advances, because all major parts of the TP2800 display product are integrated to open standards and easy to upgrade.

All TP2800 components are commercial off-the-shelf items, which secures spares availability, long-term support and cost-efficient operations. The unit consists of only four field replaceable units: LCD panel, backlight unit, controller board and external power supply. This, and the absence of any moving parts (e.g. fans), provides a high MTBF and MTTR value.

The TP2800 series monitor comes in two main versions:

  • TP2800RA (analogue version)
  • TP2800RB (digital / analogue version with dual DVI which is DDWG EDDi compliant)

Among the features available in the TP2800RB version is a camera-link interface for record and replay system, enabling real-time recording of display data, including operator inputs and mouse movements.

Both versions can be delivered for console or desktop installations. Options available include dual external power supply, clear tempered glass HR anti reflecting coatings and video capture functionality.

SAFETY FIRST

Designed for the most safety-critical environment in the world – air traffic management – the TP2800 could rightfully claim to be the world’s safest monitor. The hardware has been designed to fail in obvious failure modes allowing its user to immediately realise when the displayed information on screen is not to be trusted. Stringent simplicity has been the supreme design criterion behind the TP2800, contributing to its safety record.

Conforming to the safety recommendation of leading Civil Aviation Authority safety regulation groups, the TP2800 displays no menus or dialogues on-screen. Instead, set-up, control and calibration of the display are executed on a separate laptop or PDA.

ATC controllers rely fully on data to manage traffic flows. The TP2800 therefore uses TruePixel technology to ensure absolute accuracy of the display. Every pixel from the graphics source is mapped to a physical pixel without internal firmware manipulation or processing, which ensures that the data displayed is exactly identical to the data received.

As the only 2K x 2K panel, the input circuitry of the TP2800 is a single A/D converter. This feature ensures that if it breaks, the user will not be in doubt. By contrast, use of dual or quad A/D converters generates the risk of complex switching between A/D devices, increasing the circuit complexity and internal firmware, and the chances of a failure leading to data misrepresentation. The single highly integrated A/D converter has all of the support hardware internally. Any type of processing, scaling or image alteration is ruled out by the TP2800 design. Finally, the LCD panel is divided into quadrants, each with its own memory bank. In the event of a memory chip failure, the malfunction remains isolated to one quadrant, easier for the user to identify than failed pixels distributed across the screen.

SAFETY CASE STUDY

Terma can provide a safety case study (HAZOP analysis) for the customer when integrating the TP2800 into the customer organisation, based on the recommendations by UK Ministry of Defence: ‘Safety Management Requirements for Defence Systems’ [00-56] and ‘HAZOP Studies on System Containing Programmable Electronics’ [00-58].
The safety case study also follows the recommendations in the ‘Use of Safety Management Systems by ATM Service Providers’ [ESARR 3], and ‘Risk Assessment and Mitigation in ATM’ [ESARR 4].

AT THE CORE: THE LCD PANEL CONTROLLER

The RA (Replacement Analogue) version of the TP2800 is designed to be directly mounted in the console after removal of the Sony DDM unit. The TP2800RA fits the Sony monitor’s RGB/HV analogue at the correct Sony display timings. A desktop adapter is supplied when the monitor is used outside the console, and for maintenance purposes.

For set-up and configuration, the TP2800 includes a serial port similar to that on the Sony monitor, and the Sony communications protocol is emulated on the TP2800, reducing the risks involved when introducing new technology into any maintenance organisation.

The TP2800 is designed to fully emulate not only the interface of the Sony DDM, but also the data integrity of a cathode ray tube. This absence of manipulation of the input data ensures a high reliability of the data on the screen being identical to the data generated by the graphics controller.

The innovative design of TP2800RA’s LCD panel controller allows a minimum number of low-cost, commercially available, integrated circuits to be utilised at a small fraction of their speed and temperature ratings. The TP2800 has been designed with a single +5V power requirement at 2.5A generating low heat dissipation. The device thus does not require separate cooling fans – a feature that again translates into improved reliability, silent operations, high maintainability, and low costs of ownership. The power consumption is only 50W.

Terma has put the utmost effort into securing a mission-critical system where maintainability and reliability rank second only to safety. This translates into benefits including an extended MTBF period exceeding 40,000 hours, a single PCB design granting fast and easy repair, use of standard external power supplies for high reliability and low costs, and a low number of FRU to further reduce fault finding time.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

But seeing is believing – this goes for new ATM equipment too. Therefore several CAAs and/or ASNPs around the world have already completed testing and evaluating the TP2800, or are in the process of doing so.

Among our customers that have already performed this in-service test is Jersey Airport. Here, ATC controllers recently trial-ran a Terma 2K LCD monitor, TP2800RA, as a potential future replacement for the Sony DDMs currently in use with the SATCAS air traffic control and management system – their main tool for the control and management of aircraft in both Jersey airspace and the Channel Islands control zone.

The approach and zone suites comprise six positions with Sony DDM 2K monitors including a simulator position. During the test-run, the Terma LCD monitor was initially placed in the simulator position, and later in the main suite alongside a Sony DDM. The first part of the test-run allowed both engineering and air traffic staff to convince themselves that the LCD monitor did indeed provide a slot-in replacement for a Sony DDM utilising the analogue signals fed to the Sony DDM from the Barco graphics card installed in a SATCAS Controller Working Position PC (Compaq DS10). During the latter part of the test-run, positioning the LCD monitor in the main suite enabled the ATC controllers to make direct comparisons with a Sony DDM.

The results were clearly convincing, as proved by a few of the statements by the participants:

  • The LCD monitor is very sharp and crisp, I like it!
  • The LCD monitor looks good, great definition!
  • The LCD monitor is clear and distinct. Much better than our current tubes!

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